Day 19 - heading home
One of the seabirds which have accompanied us on the trip. Photo Amelia Connell
Today has mostly been a day of multibeam mapping, which for the biological team means the beginning of packing up duties. Everything has to be cleaned, tidied and stowed back into boxes ready to be unloaded at the end of the trip.
The final deep beam trawl was successful, with the highlight being a dumbo octopus and a sea cucumber which now has the nickname of ‘sea hippo’ because that’s pretty much what it looks like.
It’s quite an odd feeling to be packing up and heading home. The ship has felt like home and we have all gotten used to the sampling routine. We are now on the homeward leg and we are still being accompanied by seabirds. Throughout this voyage there have been seabirds near or around the boat; petrels, shearwaters, mollymawks and albatross.
One thing that always strikes me when I see albatross is the sheer size of them. They are at least half a metre long from beak to tail when they’re sitting on the water. During the day there have usually been several flying off the stern of the ship. At night they come close and settle on the water.
When we lower gear over the side of the ship there are always a number of them, particularly the petrels and shearwaters, diving for small fishes attracted to the surface by the ship’s lights.
Seeing that this is my last blog I thought I’d give you some statistics from the trip. We have:
- had only four days where the wind got above 30 knots
- had nine days where the wind got above 20 knots (we have had very good weather!)
- sampled at four seamounts (two had hydrothermal venting, two did not)
- sampled at three slope sites
- sampled in three canyons
- deployed the box corer 13 times
- conducted 39 multicores
- done 45 epibenthic sled tows
- deployed the beam trawl 26 times, and
- collected 61 hours of DTIS footage and about 14,400 still photographs of the seabed (over 61 deployments)
One of the many specimens we have collected on this voyage, this is a Pycnogonid, a sea spider. Photo Amelia Connell/NIWA
From all that sampling we have:
- caught 11 tonnes of mud and rocks (the heaviest catch was 1 tonne, while the lightest catch was <1 kilogram)
- brought up from the sea floor 5218 animals (141 fishes, 718 prawns, 15 sea spiders, 102 sea stars, 26 sea lilies, 62 sea urchins, 379 sea cucumbers, 1127 brittle stars, 257 snails, 270 sponges and 670 worms). This all weighed 65 kilograms.
- used about 250 litres of preservative
- used about 2000 jars.
It has been an amazing experience coming to sea, to explore and sample a place few people get to experience. I am very thankful for the opportunity to come on this voyage, it has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.
Thank you all for following me on this adventure, I’ve had a great time and look forward to the next one.
The end of the day, the sun setting behind White Island. Photo Amelia Connell